Camp Counselor

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Why should camp counselors consider including more Physical Literacy in their programming?

Camp counselors are given a unique opportunity to really make a difference in a lot of children’s lives. For some kids, you spend the majority of their summer with them, giving you 2 full months to help them develop a more confident self while having fun, meeting new friends, and making memories that will last a lifetime! It is also a great opportunity to develop your camp kid’s physical literacy! Physical literacy is having the confidence, competence, and motivation to be physically active. Just like a child needs to be able to identify the ABC’s before they can read and write, they must be able to perform Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS) such as running, jumping, kicking, catching, and throwing, in order to be physically literate. With your help and purposeful implementation, children can be given a wide range of movement opportunities throughout their summer with you. When a child learns how to properly do all of the Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS) it provides them the foundation for physical literacy.


In order for children to be successful in learning FUNdamental Movement Skills and improving their physical literacy, it is important that they feel safe and comfortable while doing so. You should provide an environment where children can learn new skills, build off existing ones, and create confidence in their ability to move

If children feel confident in their abilities they might want to try different activities and increase their movement vocabulary which then increases their physical literacy!

Wait a minute… so physical literacy the same thing as physical activity?

NO! Physical Literacy is a framework or ideology that help guides what physical activity will look, sound and feel like! Physical Literacy takes into account the child’s social, emotional, physical, and mental abilities to create a physical activity experience that is fun and engaging for ALL.

For complete physical literacy, children should learn movement and sport skills in four basic sport environments:

  • On the ground – the basis of most games, sports, dances and physical activities
  • In the water – the basis of all aquatic activities
  • On the snow and ice – the basis of all winter sliding activities
  • In the air – the basis for gymnastics, diving and other aerial activities.

Failure to develop physical literacy puts children at a great disadvantage when it comes to full engagement in physical activity and sport. Developing physical literacy in all children requires a combined effort from parents, guardians, teachers and sport coaches and even you, camp counselors!

It’s important to remember that children aren’t just miniature adults. Although children mature and learn at different rates, almost all children learn FUNdamental Movement Skills in the same sequence and phases. For almost every skill, children need to pass through a series of developmental stages. Few can skip a particular stage and still learn the skill. Although, some may pass through a developmental stage within a very short space of time. Learn more about the FUNdamental Movement Skills here (Coaching Association of Canada).

How much physical activity do kids need each day?

Research has determined that children need 60min every day of heart pumping, heavy breathing physical activity and need to moving (at a lower intensity) for a majority of the day (SIT LESS AND MOVE MORE!)
Research also shows that kids who have fun while participating in physical activity are more likely to stay active and healthy for life! That is why physical literacy is such an important framework to embed into your summer camp programming!
Because you spend so much time with the kids you work with, it would be great if you could make sure each of the kids you work with gets in all the physical activity they need to stay happy and healthy that would be a HUGE accomplishment! (yes even those kids that just want to do arts and crafts all day…)

Resources to include more physically literate activities into your camp day!

The Gender Divide

If a girl hasn’t participated in sports by the age of 10, there is only a 10% chance that she will be physically active as an adult. Only 16% of adult women report sport participation.

The difference in physical activity behaviours between boys and girls starts as young as 6 years old. This difference only increases as children grow older.

Physical literacy is a theory we can use in practical experiences to ensure our girls and women stay active and healthy for life.

Resources on the gender divide in sport and physical activity: